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We recently attended a conference focussing on client relations hosted by the PRCA. The event, ‘Client Love – How to Gain, Retain and Grow Clients’, explored the ingredients of a successful agency – client partnership.
In advance of the conference, the PRCA conducted a study which surveyed business owners about their biggest agency ‘bugbears’. The results paint a picture of the types of behaviours which damage an agency’s reputation amongst its clients, and how an agency can structure effective client- servicing.
Amongst the bugbears, a lack of transparency about budgets was considered the most pressing issue by 13% of respondents. The same figure responded that their biggest bugbear is ‘seniors at pitch that I don’t see much of again’, and that a lack of understanding of their business and sector was the most frustrating feature of the agency. Typos were identified as a significant irritant and a number said that a lack of understanding about the pressures the in-house team face irked them.
This was an important topic, as client satisfaction – and going the extra mile to exceed their expectations – is the overall goal in everything that we do. A number of our clients have been with us since the agency’s inception, so whether it’s constant creativity, a willingness to challenge, or the visible and regular hands-on involvement of the senior team in ensuring our clients get the best possible service, we’re obviously doing something right.
Belgian Relationship Expert and Psychotherapist Esther Perel advises people to ‘treat their partner as they treat their client’, suggesting the delicate balance that is required for successful and meaningful relationships. So what are the secrets of a successful relationship?
Client relationships should not and are not taken for granted. In a competitive environment, there is no room for complacency – only constant creativity, strategic insight, and a preparedness to look at familiar issues and organisations with fresh eyes will do. This is the case whether the client relationship has been in place for ten days or ten years.
Honesty and openness needs to be at the heart of any successful relationship. In the context of agency-client relationships, this means that we need to be open about everything that we do – from the results we think we can achieve, to the resources we think we will need to do it. We are there to be trusted advisers, not best friends, and we need to be prepared to have honest conversations about how we can work most effectively together and the results we can achieve. In client relationships, as in life, honesty is very much the best policy.
By Avital Mendelsohn & Yasmin Mckelvie, both Account Executives.